News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume 4, Number 12
December 6, 2004
For easy reading, we recommend that you print out "The Voice of Clear
"Impermanence" - edited excerpts from oral teachings given by
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche during a ngondro retreat in 1994 and by
Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche during a ngondro retreat in 2003.
Sangha Sharing: "An Example of Guru Yoga," by Ron Langman, who passed
away after a long illness on Nov. 24, 2004.
Honoring the 15th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's receiving the
Nobel Peace Prize.
New items available at Ligmincha's store.
Reminder: "Early-bird" registration deadline for the Zhine retreat is
Dec. 22.
From "This Precious Life" by Khandro Rinpoche.
"IMPERMANENCE" - edited excerpts from oral teachings given by
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche during a ngondro retreat in 1994 and by
Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche during a ngondro retreat in 2003.
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche:
When we look back at the lives of some of our close friends and
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relatives who have passed away, and we look at how much they each
struggled within their lifetimes, we can see that had they struggled
and worried and fought a little less, and just relaxed a little bit
more, they likely would have led just as full lives. We know this
about life, don't we? Because it's the same way for us. We know
very clearly all the moments in our lives spent struggling for
various things, yet we never consider in the midst of those moments
that tomorrow may be the day in which our life as we know it will
We must recognize that death does not only happen to those who live
far away in distant places, who die in floods or earthquakes. We do
not live in some paradise where death would not happen. Rather,
recognize that the flood or the earthquake can happen right here, and
that we can be the one who has the accident and dies. We normally
don't think in this way. We always think that death is "out there"
somewhere. So really connect with those people you've felt close
to who have passed away, feel the impermanence in their passing.
Look deeply at the whole process of a close one's dying and relate to
that person - because one day you, too, will be there.
Practice to develop your sense of impermanence by imagining your
having a near-death experience; or imagine being kidnapped or lost,
taken from your comfortable world; or imagine that your house has
just burned down and that you've lost everything. Spend some time
doing these practices, and see how your attitude changes about what
is truly important in your life. After a while, your grasping mind
will relax, and you will become more sensitive, more aware of the
impermanent condition of all that you normally struggle for. If you
find that your attitude toward these things changes over time, then
that is a good sign that meditation is developing something in
Try to understand the complete reality of your own life and death,
instead of struggling with just a piece of the whole truth. If you
are really interested in struggling in life, then struggle for
completeness. Develop more sensitivity to the impermanence of your
present life and with practice you will change your attitude toward
what is truly important during your lifetime.
Having a practice will benefit you so much when going through
difficult life experiences. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama
explained, if he had not been a practitioner he would have gone crazy
when the Chinese took over Tibet. Through practice you can realize
the richness within yourself. That richness is there within you, in
your being, without your needing to rely on anybody or anything
outside you to experience it. You can be completely alone with no
possessions, and yet you will always have it with you. If you
realize the richest part of yourself, then you can never be poor.
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But if your identity and your richness and your happiness all depend
on the people and things surrounding you, then that richness is only
temporary and can be lost very easily.
Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche:
This present life of ours is so precious. Maybe it is a result of
many virtuous actions that we have accumulated over many lifetimes.
So, it is important for us to understand how difficult such a life is
for us to obtain. We should ask ourselves when we might find such a
precious life again in the future. Is there any certainty at all
that we can again find the same kind of life and situation? Maybe we
will find a better one, maybe a worse one. We're never sure because
the future is unknown.
Recognize that this very life that we have now is completely in our
hands, whether we use it in a good way or in a wrong way. That is why
it is called a precious life.
We have this precious human life as a result of our accumulating
virtuous actions from many lifetimes. So we have to think of this
and realize the good things about this life, rather than always
thinking of the negative things like having to work, and seemingly
not having enough time to practice. Because we have been born into
samsara, having difficulties is normal and unavoidable. But instead
of thinking of the negatives, we can spend time thinking of the
positive and fortunate situations in our life and how we should use
them in a good way.
This life is not permanent. It is very much dependent on our
material body, which is full of pain and misery and made of flesh and
blood. This life will not last so long compared to the many, many
lifetimes that we have had before and the many, many lifetimes that
we will have in the future. It is said that this life is like a
dewdrop on the grass in the summertime. It lasts for only one
morning. It can go away anytime and at any moment due to any cause
or condition.
So this life is very precious and fortunate and at the same time very
transitory. So while we have this fortunate time, we must use it in
a good way.
SANGHA SHARING: "An Example of Guru Yoga," by Ron Langman, who passed
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away after a long illness on Nov. 24, 2004.
[Note from the Editor: Ron Langman, a student of Tenzin Rinpoche,
who lived in the Charlottesville area with his wife, Linda, and their
children, had been seriously ill for the past couple of years due to
a brain tumor. He was strong and courageous through all the phases
of his dealing with his illness and, with the loving support and help
from his wife and friends in the sangha, was able to attend several
of Rinpoche's recent retreats at Serenity Ridge. Many of you may
have met Ron, who sat at the back of the gompa in a wheelchair at the
recent fall retreat with Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. Every time
I saw him he was holding his mala and glowing with a space he had
found, kindly smiling at me. Ron's struggles with his physical body
ended with his passing on Nov. 24, 2004.
I am honored to share this short piece that Ron wrote last August.
He first gave it to Lee Hartline, who with the help of Ron's good
friend, Jim Norman, deciphered the shaky handwriting and then typed
it exactly as Ron had written it and passed it to Rinpoche. Ron's
wish was that it would one day make its way out into the world.
Those of us who have been touched by Ron are grateful for his
honesty, his big heart and bright light.
This issue of The Voice of Clear Light is dedicated to Ron Langman.
The Bardo prayer that Ron refers to, "The Prayer of the Intermediate
State: The Precious Garland," can be found at the beginning of
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's book, "Healing With Form, Energy and
Light." Reciting this prayer during the 49-day period after someone
has died is recommended by our teachers.]
An Example of Guru Yoga
For many years, from 1980 on I have tried to gain some experience in
meditation. I studied with Geshe Gudun Lodro. He taught Calm
Abiding and Guru Yoga. In 20 years my meditations were uneven,
unexceptional, and frenetic. Off in worldly concerns, fantasies,
indolence and pride. That's how it was.
Last year the brain tumor that is in my brain flared up and I had to
have surgery to remove part of my brain and the tumor. The doctors
wanted me awake so that they could gauge how much good brain they
were removing by asking me to do things during surgery. This was a
long and arduous experience. As it progressed I started doing Guru
Yoga with Lama Tenzin as my object of refuge. I repeated from the
Bardo teaching, "Lama from your compassion bless me" and focused my
mind on his image. As time drew on Lama Tenzin appeared as a great
golden being and the Tibetan syllable Ah! began to come out of his
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body to me. I felt loved not only by Lama Tenzin but by the whole
Sangha. It got me through the surgery.
So by this illness and great trauma Guru Yoga appeared to me in a
powerful way. It has become true for me that moments of great
suffering or fear can also become moments of great devotion and
faith. I share this example with the Sangha in the hope that merit
will come to us all to help Sentient Beings in as many ways as
Gratefully, Ron Langman
It was 15 years ago on Dec. 10, 1989, a landmark day for all
Tibetans, that His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His Holiness first received the news
a month earlier while in California, just before he was to give his
first dzogchen teachings in the United States in the form of a
weekend retreat.
My husband was one of the many fortunate ones who had made the
pilgrimage to see the Dalai Lama at that special time. As Jeff
recalled, he first saw the headlines announcing the Dalai Lama's
having been chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize an hour after arriving
in San Francisco on a red-eye flight, the morning before the retreat
was to begin. Amazed and now even more excited to be attending, Jeff
headed to Santa Cruz, where the teachings were to be held. He
arrived only to find that the venue for the teachings had just been
changed that day to a much larger arena 30 miles away in San Jose,
California. Apparently the organizers of the retreat had not
anticipated the large numbers of people that would want to attend the
Dalai Lama's teachings and empowerment.
The next morning in San Jose, Jeff found himself among a sea of more
than 5,000 eager hearts and souls from all walks of life that had
amassed outside the great entrance doors to the arena. Lamas, monks
and nuns in an assortment of brightly colored robes from all
traditions swept through the crowd for their chance to sit in the
reserved rows nearest the stage from which His Holiness would be
As His Holiness first appeared on stage, with his hands together in a
gesture of prayer, everyone in the arena including the entourage of
high lamas on the stage, gave him a standing ovation. Wave upon wave
of thunderous applause resounded throughout the arena in recognition
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of this surprise bestowal of such a great honor upon His Holiness.
The applause continued for several minutes until after much gesturing
by the Dalai Lama for people to sit, the crowd finally settled back
into their seats. Then, just before the very first words of
introduction were spoken, suddenly the whole arena rushed back to
standing and once again thundered their excitement over the great
news, one last exclamation of love and gratitude, before finally
settling down into reverent silence.
Sogyal Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist master and well-known author
of "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying," had the great honor of
hosting the Dalai Lama in California. So it was also his great
fortune to publicly congratulate His Holiness on his just being
announced as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was
"This is a triumph for the Tibetan people and all their hopes, a
signal that the world acknowledges the justice of their struggle and
supports their aspirations for freedom, born through so much
suffering. It is a message of victory for all those throughout the
world who cherish peace and human values, and a signal of hope to
encourage all those other people who are struggling for their rights
and their happiness. It is a tribute to your unwavering stand on nonviolence,
and to your message of compassion and love, which has moved
so many millions around the globe. And it is the long-awaited
confirmation of your place as the most important spokesman for world
peace in this troubled world of ours. For no one else has championed
the cause of universal brotherhood and sisterhood, of reconciliation
and forgiveness as you have done. At long last the world has
recognized what so many have known for so long."
His Holiness replied:
"First, I would like to extend my greetings to you all, my Dharma
brothers and sisters, gathered here. Also I wish to thank Sogyal
Rinpoche and all of you for your congratulations upon my receiving
the Nobel Peace Prize. I consider this prize to be some kind of
recognition of my motivation and its sincerity. So essentially the
credit goes not to this monk Tenzin Gyatso, but rather to the sincere
motivation of altruism. Every human being has the same potential for
compassion; the only question is whether we really take any care of
that potential, and develop and implement it in our daily life. My
hope is that more and more people will realize the value of
compassion, and so follow the path of altruism. As for myself, ever
since I became a Buddhist monk, that has been my real destiny - for
usually I think of myself as just one simple Buddhist monk, no more
and no less."
It was about a month later, on Dec. 10, in Oslo, Norway, that His
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Holiness was officially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Here is a
brief excerpt from his acceptance speech:
"I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of the
oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and
work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who
founded the modern tradition of non-violent action for a change
Mahatma Gandhi whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I
accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave
countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to
suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy
aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities.
The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and
determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated."
[Note: California quotations are from "Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of
the Great Perfection. Dzogchen Teachings given in the West by His
Holiness the Dalai Lama." Translated by Geshe Thupten Jinpa and
Chokyi Nyima. Edited by Patrick Gaffney. Ithaca: Snow Lion
Publications, 2000. (This book is available at Ligmincha's
store. Visit His Holiness's acceptance
speech in Norway is available in its entirety at]
-Aline and Jeff Fisher
We are pleased to announce the addition of the following items to our
online store:
1. The Spanish editions of the three books by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche:
"Senacion Con Forma, Energia Y Luz"; "El Yoga De Los
Suenos"; "Maravillas Do La Mente Natural." Price: $16.95 each, plus
2. Our new deity cards! Each card is printed on high quality card
stock, with clear printed images of the Buddhas and protectors of the
Bon tradition, including Tonpa Shenrab, Shenlha Odkar, Tapihritsa,
Yeshe Walmo, Sidpa Gyalmo and Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen. The invocations
of Yeshe Walmo and Tapihritsa are printed on the backs of their
respective cards. Price: $4 each, plus shipping.
3. Tibetan damaru (ritual drum): $35, plus shipping.
You can find all of these items at Click
on "Search by Category" and then "New Items".
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There are many other Dharma items and books that would make great
gifts for friends and family this holiday season. So please visit
the online website or call Ligmincha's store toll-free (866) 522-
5269. (In the Charlottesville area, call 434-220-0060.)
And don't forget to order your 2005 calendar filled with Tenzin
Rinpoche's beautiful calligraphy!
Register to attend the Zhine (Calm Abiding) Retreat, Feb. 24-27,
2005, with Gabriel Rocco at Serenity Ridge, by the "early-bird" date
of Dec. 22 for a special fee of $200.
This retreat is appropriate for new and experienced zhine
practitioners. Through its skillful means, zhine strengthens the
attention and develops the powers of concentration necessary to calm
the mind, experience inner peace, and enter the tantric and dzogchen
practices of Bon.
Contact Ligmincha Institute at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (434) 977-6161.
From "This Precious Life" by Khandro Rinpoche:
"The main point of meditation practice, the essence of Dharma itself,
is to be completely honest and to work with that honesty in a simple
way. To understand the practice of meditation is to understand
simplicity. The basic foundation of the teachings lies in how very
simple and ordinary - and yet how profound - things can be. No
meditator can afford to get caught up in things that aren't all that
necessary. We really need to understand this: instead of creating
great seriousness and grave issues, we need to lighten up and open
ourselves up to our true nature."
"This Precious Life," by Khandro Rinpoche. Boston: Shambhala
Publications, Inc., 2003. Available at bookstores or visit
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The Voice of Clear Light is a free, e-mail publication of Ligmincha Institute. Your suggestions and
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For more information about Ligmincha Institute, the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, or retreats at
Serenity Ridge or our regional centers, please contact us:
Ligmincha Institute
313 2nd St. SE Suite #207
Charlottesville, VA 22902
434-977-6161 fax 434-977-7020
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For books, tapes and transcripts of teachings by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche as well as other books and items
supportive to Bon and Buddhist practice, please visit the Ligmincha's Online Store at or contact the Ligmincha Store at 434-220-0060
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